Inhofe’s Opening Statement at SASC Hearing Entitled, “U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services (SASC) Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at a SASC hearing on U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and U.S. Forces Korea. Witnesses at today’s hearing include Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III of the United States Navy (USN), commander of the U.S. Pacific Command; and Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti of the United States Army (USA), commander of United Nations Command / Combined Forces Command / U.S. Forces Korea.

As prepared for delivery:          

The world is getting more dangerous and the Pacific is no exception. 

North Korea’s erratic leader continues to engage in provocative actions, including military exercises, nuclear and missile tests, and the development of a road-mobile missile system. 

China declares unilateral Air Defense Identification Zones and makes provocative moves to blockade ships and claim sovereignty over vast tracks of the South China Sea.  

Despite the growing danger, massive cuts to the national security budget are making the jobs of Admiral Locklear and General Scaparrotti more difficult. 

While the Chinese defense budget grows at over 12 %, Secretary Hagel tells his commanders “American Dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space can no longer be taken for granted.”

Our domain dominance is eroding rapidly due to diversion of resources from Defense to the President’s domestic agenda over the past five years, and that has consequences for our security. 

Less capable and less dominant U.S. forces make it more difficult for our men and women in uniform to handle crises.  And, as we’re seeing around the world today, a less capable U.S military makes it more likely that crises will erupt. 

Those who advocate drastically slashing the defense budget and a total retreat from international engagement put the security of the homeland at risk.

More aggressive adversaries and less capable U.S. military forces are a recipe for disaster.  The dismantling of our national security over the last five years has led to the growth of extremists in Syria and Iraq, Putin’s annexation of Crimea, and has invited increased Chinese belligerence in the East and South China Seas. 

A strategy of “rebalance” to the Pacific implies an increase in presence, resources and commitment.  As we are seeing in the Middle East, not delivering on the rhetoric erodes the faith of our allies and emboldens our adversaries.  Our words must be backed up by action.

I look forward to ADM Locklear’s frank assessment of how the rebalance is perceived in the region and a discussion of the challenges imposed on him by resource constraints. 

I’m concerned that the retreating tide of U.S. leadership and defense capability will encourage Kim Jong Un to be more aggressive. 

Gen. Scaparrotti we need to hear from you how this readiness problem that grounds airplanes, ties up ships, and cancels ground training, will impact your combat capability.    

I don’t remember a time in my life when the world has been more dangerous.  And I can think of no time in my life when the dismantling of our military will be more disastrous.    

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